A Series by Jill Holler – Part 2
Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. Micah 7:8
The Dreaded Feeling of Failure
Although I know God can redeem my life from any sin or mistake I have made, there is something about failure that makes me want to crawl into a hole and hide.
I have a hard time getting past the self-inflicted shame I feel when I’ve messed up in a pretty big way.
Perhaps it’s the uncomfortable feeling of humiliation or the countless eyes of scrutiny that I perceive to be upon me. Maybe it’s the quiet, underlying feeling that somehow in relation to others, I just don’t measure up.
Simply put, my failures make me feel like a fool.
And to me, that is just about the worst fate imaginable!
In fact, I can think of an endless list of things I would rather endure than the embarrassment of my own mistakes.
For example, I would rather have a root canal. Or be surrounded by a swarm of angry bees. Or maybe even be a substitute teacher for a high school gym class.
Yes, I think I’d rather do just about anything than be faced with my own failures.
Clinging to Failure
Yet as much as I dread the feeling of failure, I find myself clinging to it. In fact, I tend to carry around a mental list of my failures and replay them over and over in my mind, as if somehow I am trying to persuade myself that I am not simply not good enough.
What a strange thing to do! I want to be the best I can be. Yet all I can do is think about all the ways I am not.
Images of disastrous and embarrassing failures constantly spring to mind, reminding me of my inadequacies and squelching the fire for Jesus that I want to keep burning in my heart.
Without any effort at all, my eyes seem to zoom in with laser-like focus on all of my failures, examining each one in microscopic detail. And as a result, there is very little room left in my vision for God.
A Painful Yet Important Realization
With all of my heart, I want to live the crucified life, one in which I am dead to myself but alive to Christ. But on my personal quest to discover how to attain this life, God has been vividly pointing out one thing to me:
I must lose my focus on myself.
Ouch. This truth hit me squarely in the gut, targeting me right where I’m most vulnerable–my own ego.
I started to realize that when I am focused on my own failures, I am not simply being humble. Nor am I trying to learn from my mistakes and become a better person. Instead, I am dwelling on what others (and myself) think of me, ultimately making everything about me–not God.
I forget that my life is for the glory of God…not my own personal triumph.
And by carrying around a mental list of my mistakes, I am unwittingly proclaiming that I am the most important person in this world–and all that matters is what happens to me. Christ becomes secondary to my desire to be seen as successful and important, even in my quest to live the Christian life.
How badly I can distort the vision God gives me as I bank all of my worth on how successful I am. And when my thoughts are all centered around me, I can be certain I am not surrendering to the crucified life.
The Gift of God’s Mercy
Yet my God is a merciful God. And even as He deals with my own self-centeredness, God is full of compassion and grace. He never gives up on me.
Kindly, yet firmly, God calls me to flee from a life that is all about me. Instead He calls me give Him control–to let go of everything that holds me back from living the life of purpose He created me for…and to “run with perseverance the race marked out for [me]” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Jesus Christ calls us to follow Him wherever He goes. Whether through valleys or mountains, on the glorious road or on the one less traveled. He says to us, “Follow me.” And He expects us to go exactly where He leads…with no thoughts of gaining anything, except a life that looks a little more like His.
To follow Him, we must lay everything down. All of our failures, our desire for glory, and every single notion we have about our own self-worth and the approval of others. None of it matters. Not a single bit.
The only thing that matters is Jesus Christ and answering His call.
To live this life of surrender, we must go where He leads us. Most certainly, that is far away from ourselves and the values of this world, and closer to the kind of life He lived and modeled for us–the disciples to whom He has called to carry on His work.
In leading us closer to the crucified life, Jesus Christ is leading us to Calvary.
The Road to Calvary
When Christ walked this earth, He knew where His life would take Him, and it would not be a place of personal glory. Instead, it would lead to a hill called Calvary where He would give up his life for us.
In the same manner, Christ calls us to surrender.
He calls us to give up the most valuable thing in our possession: our own lives. He asks that we lay them down at the foot of the cross and trade them in for a life completely devoted to Him, with no thought of what the outcome may be.
All He asks is that we trust Him, keeping our eyes fixed on heaven and forgetting what is behind.
Our lives are no longer centered on the ways we have failed or the ways we have succeeded. Our lives are simply about Him.
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14
New Life in Christ
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
The old has gone and the new has come! And although we must lay down our lives for Him, He raises us up to something better: new life with Him.
Only in this new life with Christ will we find the true freedom and purpose we long for.
Never will we regret giving up a worldly, success-and-failure based life for a life in which each moment will be marked by the hand of God.
Brothers and sisters, come along with me to travel on the road that Jesus walked. Bid farewell to the anxiety that comes with trying to measure up to the standards of this world. And trade it in for an abundant life of purpose that only Jesus Christ can give!
Today, I’m tearing up my list of failures (and successes). I am lifting the banner of Jesus Christ high above my life
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19
Enjoy other posts in this series
What to Lose: